One of the best things about living in Helsinki is its proximity to the rest of Europe. While Finns say they feel fairly remote, for those of us facing a 26-hour flight home, anything less is a breeze.
Photo: Marko Stampehl/AS Tallink Grupp
During the summer months you also have the option of visiting neighbouring countries by boat. By boat, I mean passenger ferries, built to accommodate you and 3000 of your favourite strangers.
With my parents visiting we decided to do the ferry trip to Stockholm, which we’ve been told, pretty much makes us Finnish. We travelled on the Silja Serenade and were welcomed on board by Moomin, musicians and circus performers. The big promenade down the centre of the boat makes orientation really easy.
As well as bars and restaurants, there’s a big play area for children. I sat in there for two hours while Miko played and recommend taking a book, as you need to stay in the area but not really watch your child the whole time. (Magazines in Finnish are provided).
To travel, you pay one ticket price, that covers the fare and accommodation for all those sleeping in your cabin. A cabin with a window costs more, but with the Nordic summer sun visible for nearly 24 hours these days, you may not miss having one.
One of the best things about the trip, that I hadn’t anticipated, was the beautiful views as we drew nearer to Stockholm.
We had a bird’s eye view of the archipelago as we cruised slowly by, fascinated by the remotely set houses and saunas.
Stockholm is a city set over 14 islands, connected by bridges. Once docked, we headed into Gamla Stan (Old Town), via bus.
We passed by beautiful parks full of beautiful Swedish people, before reaching the Royal Palace.
Gamla Stan is full of little streets to lose yourself in, with stores selling books, shoes, waffles and ice cream.
We use the Foursquare app for recommendations on where to eat and were not disappointed with the lunch we had at Under Kastanjen.
After an ice cream in the sun, we headed to the Nobel Museum, leaving Mum & Dad to tour through while we had a drink and people-watched in the Old Town Square.
Later, on board the boat, we got a window seat and enjoyed drinks and the view, which once again was absolutely captivating. By the time we arrived back in Helsinki the next morning we agreed – we all had a case of Stockholm Syndrome.
Good to know:
- Silja Line ferries dock a bit further out of town. Allow 20-30 mins for the bus into town, which is very easy to catch.
- The currency of Sweden is the krona (SEK)
- If you are a Club One member, take your card on board as you can earn points and get discounts
- The duty free stores onboard have better prices than the cafes for things like chocolate
- There are also big savings on Finnish souvenirs, like Moomin mugs (19€ on land, 13€ at sea)